Tag Archives: mental health

Changes to Disability Benefits and the Government’s blasé attitude to psychological distress.

Last month the Government announced that it was going to be tightening the criteria for claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which would see those people with mental illnesses stuck without the vital support that they need. The Government has introduced these restrictions after losing two cases at tribunals.

The Tribunal ruled that someone who is unable to undertake a journey without assistance from another person due to psychological distress should be scored in the same way as a person who needs assistance because they have difficulty navigating. Rather than accepting the ruling of the courts, the Government decided to change the legislation and the descriptors to exclude people suffering from some mental health disabilities by inserting the following into the legislation and the descriptors, “for reasons other than psychological distress”.

The Government produced its own analysis of which claimants and conditions are likely to be affected by these changes, 

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Despite fight by Lib Dems, government changes today deny up to 160,000 people suffering from mental health disabilities access to Personal Independence Mobility Component

As we reported less than a month ago, Liberal Democtrats in the Parliament have been fighting the government’s decision to deny disability benefits to 160,000 vulnerable people. The government have refused to listen and the new regulations came into force today.

Stephen Fry tweeted:

He links to this message from Mind, the mental health charity:

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Children’s Mental Health Week: Nearly two thirds of children feel worried all the time

Nick Clegg has written an article for the Huffington Post to mark Children’s Mental Health Week, highlighting a study which found that nearly two thirds of children feel worried all the time.

As he says, stress and worry are part of life but it’s important that people have the right support when they need it or that stress and worry could develop into mental ill health.

Stress and worry are a part of every walk of life. No job, no task, is without its stresses and strains. During my time as deputy Prime Minister I would have numerous decisions to juggle which would leave me worrying about whether I was making the right choices or not. Luckily I have an amazing family and close friends who gave me all the support I could wish for. Not everyone is as fortunate.

As an adult having to deal with such pressure is extremely difficult to navigate so I can’t imagine what it would be like for a child to feel anxious and stressed all the time. Yet I was surprised to learn this week that nearly two thirds of children say they worry all the time. Accordingly to a new survey published by children’s charity Place2Be 63% of children still at primary school say they worry “all the time” about at least one thing to do with their school life, home life or themselves.

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One mental health first aider per school is not enough

I welcomed Theresa May’s announcement on Monday in which she said “every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training”. MHFA England has campaigned for many years to get school staff trained in Mental Health First Aid and are thrilled that there will be at least one Mental Health First Aider in each secondary school.

But it doesn’t go far enough. Every single teacher, as part of their teacher training course, should be trained in Mental Health First Aid.

Poppy Jaman, CEO of MHFA England, said:

Mental ill health in young people is a growing health concern, with half of all lifetime cases of mental health issues starting by the age of 14.

There is a bespoke MHFA England course called Youth Mental Health First Aid which could be modified for teacher training. A short course could change a young person’s life.

A teacher overseeing a class of 30+ pupils needs to have the skills to recognise early warning signs of mental ill-health. One first aider per school can help in moments of crisis, but cannot possibly pick up all the mental health warning signs within the school population. A large part of the MHFA course is in learning about various mental health problems (such as stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide ideation, psychosis) and how to intervene early on.

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Our nation’s mental health is a clear and present danger

On Monday, Theresa May’s announcement about mental health came to precious little in money terms – a mere £15m of additional investment to be precise. This despite the fact that Norman Lamb and others have made it clear that extra money that was earmarked for mental health last year has in fact been used to prop up NHS trusts who are suffering from financial difficulties. Mental health is crying out for more money as Isabel Hardman eloquently writes about in the Telegraph today based on her own experience.

The statistics are clear. Research in 2014 found that one in ten people wait over a year just to get an assessment for a talking therapy, while four in ten wait more than three months. Two thirds told the We Need To Talk coalition that they had become more unwell while waiting, with one in six attempting suicide. In 2014, over 6,000 people died from suicide which is 16 per day. Nobody would be happy to wait three months for a broken leg to be treated or to have to travel 300 miles to see their children for a broken arm. Yet this is precisely the state of mental health in the UK today.

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Lib Dem council candidate Ben talks about his Depression

Yesterday my attention was taken by this excellent video of a young man talking about his experiences with Depression posted on the BBC’s The Social Facebook page.

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Now, Theresa, you weren’t really the driving force behind mental health crisis care improvements, now, were you?

So, Theresa May gave an interview to Sky’s Sophy Ridge today in which she gave the biggest signal yet that leaving the single market is very much on the agenda.

In time honoured tradition, there’s a nice petition you can sign if you agree with Tim Farron that “reckless plans to leave the Single Market would make us all poorer.”

But it’s something else she said in her interview that grabbed my attention. She had moved from saying not much actually on Brexit to a very small amount on the NHS to talking about her speech tomorrow. Apparently mental health is a priority of hers. Who knew? The Prime Minister said:

If I can give you an example of something I have already done, when I was in the Home Office one of the issues that concerned me was people in mental health crisis being taken to a police cell as a place of last resort.  It wasn’t good for them, it wasn’t good for the police.  Actually we’ve changed that and we’ve seen the number for whom that happens coming down by 80% and that was a small sum of money that the NHS has been able to put in in order to ensure that there are more, for example more and different places of safety for people …

“I have already done.” Really?

Well, let’s look at an unbiased source, shall we? The Government website which announced this initiative back in 2014 didn’t mention Theresa May anywhere. The main names were Liberal Democrat ministers Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb. Yes, there was Home Office involvement, but it was Lamb who had done all the work bringing it together across government. He was the driving force behind all the mental health measures introduced by the Coalition Government.

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  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 29th Mar - 7:36pm
    P.J. 29th Mar '17 - 7:16pm Two points actually. Some people claim that the Conservative party has a liberal wing, for instance Douglas Hurd MP...
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    @Richard Underhill Your point is??
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